Onondaga Community College and the Syracuse City School District’s (SCSD) partnership which prepares youth with developmental disabilities for success in the workplace has earned statewide recognition. The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) awarded OCC and the SCSD the “Youth Transition Award” for providing an outstanding educational program which prepares students with disabilities for success in the workforce. The award was presented at the OPWDD’s annual “Works For Me” recognition event October 22 at the New York State Museum in Albany.
The joint effort between OCC and the SCSD is now in its 9th year. OCC provides classrooms and computers while the SCSD contributes the teachers and instructional materials. SCSD students between the ages of 17 and 21 participate in job or internship programs on campus. The opportunities include positions at Coulter Library, the College’s Facilities Maintenance department, American Food and Vending and the Southwest YMCA. Upon completion of the program students have a credential, a resume, work experience and recommendations based on their overall performance.
Winning this award is a tremendous honor,” said Maureen Blake-Cooper, a Special Education Teacher for Syracuse City Schools who is based at OCC. She credits the collaboration with SCSD Co-Teacher Anne Connolly and notes that, “The award is truly a team effort. We have outstanding mentors here on campus who are extremely dedicated. Vi Marcy in the Library and Allen Smithler in Facilities Maintenance play a huge role in the program’s success. Businesses throughout the community have also made a significant commitment and are hiring some of our students. We are fortunate to have so many people throughout Central New York who are committed to helping youths with developmental disabilities.”
The OPWDD’s Communications Department put together a video on the OCC/SCSD partnership. It was played at the awards ceremony. You can view it below.